Since the advent of the official single chart in 1952, we have witnessed the annual obsession of anticipating and predicting the release that will top the chart on December 25th. In the preceding months an inordinate amount of songwriters endeavour to vie for a Christmas hit.
They will also have to compete with the perennial and very familiar re-releases, including Noddy Holder’s ‘pension plan’ Merry Christmas Everybody. This rewards Slade to the tune of half a million pounds each year.
Festive big hitters
The other big Christmas earners include Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Jona Lewie, Wham and Bing Crosby – White Christmas, released on a 78rpm disc in 1942, is in fact the world’s best-selling single, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies. You could double that figure if you include all the cover versions. This song was also broadcast on Armed Forces Radio in 1975 as a secret signal for the U.S. evacuation from Saigon.
In recent times, we have had the unprecedented achievement of the same artist reaching number one in three consecutive years. After an 18 year wait for a novelty song to top the charts, following Bob the Builder asking Can we fix it?, LadBaby released We Built This City (On Sausage Rolls) 2018, I Love Sausage Rolls 2019, and Don’t Stop Me Eatin’ 2020.
Love it or loathe it
You can’t avoid listening to most of these Christmas songs. From late November until the New Year all music radio stations cram their playlists with these songs with the risk of hearing the same song five or six times a day which, multiplied by the number of days leading up to Christmas, can lead to Mariah Carey overload syndrome..
Shops are also guilty of assuming we all want to listen to these Christmas novelties while buying a pint of milk and a cut loaf as much as six weeks before the actual event. Pubs, restaurants, lifts, markets and waiting rooms also pump out these ditties on a never-ending loop, which can be quite unbearable…unless like me you love it (sshh, don’t tell anyone though)!
Rob Palmer is the owner of Roan Records, 12 Church Road, Teddington TW11 8PB.